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Kia Scores a Slam Dunk with All-Star Integration

The debate is still buzzing in our office over whether or not Blake Griffin deserved to win this year's NBA Slam Dunk contest. But one thing that can't be debated, Kia appears to be the big winner of the night. With the NBA's fanhood reaching Jordan-like levels, this year's 'AllStar Saturday Night'? (Skills Challenge, Three Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest) was the most watched in the event's 26 year history according to TNT, drawing 8.1 million total viewers (5.1 million households and a 4.4 rating). The broadcast peaked at 10.4 total viewers while the Crenshaw Elite Choir sang 'I Believe I Can Fly'? as Griffin leaped over the hood of a Kia Optima for his final dunk of the night. CNBC's Darren Rovell reported earlier today that consideration for Kia spiked significantly with Edmunds.com reporting a 20% increase in consideration for Kia on the day after the Slam Dunk contest compared to an average Sunday.  Consumers were twice as likely (104%) to consider buying the Optima Sedan ' the specific vehicle that Griffin dunked over. And let's be clear, this was very much a planned product integration. CNBC reports that the arrangement was made weeks before the contest between Kia, Kia's Agency IMG, and Griffin's management company. Rovell reported that 'As part of the deal, Griffin and Kia agreed to have a more formal relationship if the dunk was pulled off and he won the contest, which he did.'? So not only has Griffin re-energized one of the most miserable NBA franchises in the league this season (I'm eagerly anticipating seeing the 'Blakers'? play the Celtics in a few weeks) and taken home the 'Sprite Slam Dunk Championship'? trophy, but he's also secured a new endorsement deal. I look forward to seeing the Griffin Kia commercials, and I can't wait to see the official sales data for Optima's purchased in the month after the dunk contest. I'm also looking forward to the copycat dunk videos on YouTube.

Are You Ready For Some [Insert sound of crickets]?

T-minus 24 days to my favorite day of the year ' Superbowl Sunday! There is nothing better than the culmination of 17 weeks of gridiron mayhem complete with 3 weeks of playoffs where anything can happen ' hello Seahawks! However, this very well might be the last NFL event we get to watch and enjoy before the looming lock out. While the thought of having a fall season without NFL RedZone makes me sick, dedicated fans like me aren't the only ones losing out as the NFL season touches more than just their fans and players. The domino effect of the lockout is staggering, as almost every industry, big or small, is impacted by football in some way. On Monday, AdAge reported that lost revenue in the ballpark of $12 billion.1 That's a lot of beers and pretzels that won't be sold in stadiums next season. In addition to lost ticket sales and Sunday Funday bar tabs; Las Vegas will take a huge hit, as will the Mom & Pop Pizzeria in town that spends all day Sunday delivering to fans hungry from cheering their team on all day. It's easy to forget that when it comes down to it, the NFL is a business, and they are going to do their best to protect their interest and make sure that money stays in their pockets. From here, it will be interesting to see how sport sponsorships are approached by potential clients in the future. I won't be surprised if all sports sponsorships suffer after this, as it is hard enough measuring ROI on a good day, you can't measure something that isn't there. Where is the incentive for a company or city to shell out millions of dollars to be a sponsor of a sport or event that could potentially fall apart and disappear ' who remembers 2004? As a result of the 2004 NHL lockout, an estimated $2 billion in revenue was lost from tickets, media, sponsorships, and concessions by teams.2 The city of Atlanta alone lost out on the 2005 NHL All-Star game, which usually generates between $15 million and $18 million in revenue for the host city.3 Yikes bikes. While I did receive Commissioner Goodell's email to fans last week explain in his commitment to avoiding a lockout, I'm still scared. (And by scared I mean terrified.) On the bright side March 1st, the deadline for the NFL and Players Associate to renew their collective bargaining agreement, is still more than a month away. And until then, I will savor everything the NFL has to offer what's left of this season. And last, but certainly not least ' GO PATS! Sources: 1 Over $12B at Stake if NFL Lockout Prevent 2011 Season 2 The hockey lockout of 2004 ' 05 3 Cancellation is a serious blow to fans, host city

Numbers Game

This week, superstar LeBron James filed official NBA paperwork to change his number from 23 to 6. LeBron says that he wants to change his number out of respect to MJ ' the most famous #23. The cynic in me has to wonder if it's a tribute to Michael Jordan the player, or Michael Jordan the businessman and product endorser of Nike, McDonalds, Gatorade, Hanes, and upwards of a dozen others. If LeBron was such a basketball purist and really wanted to lay tribute to one of the game's greatest players, why would he choose 6? It might not have the iconography of 23, but it happens to be the number of some other slightly above average players by the name of Russell and Erving. Hmmm, makes you wonder if this decision was born out of Cleveland, OH or Portland, OR. So why is this move such a big deal? Well, in the sports world it could mean everything from LeBron sticking around in Cleveland (if he was planning on leaving this summer, why go through the trouble?), to him just getting used to the idea of playing with #6 because he'll need to change it when he goes to Chicago next year (bold prediction). Regardless of what his decision is, this may be just as big of a story in the sports marketing and branding world. Okay fine, LeBron's 2010 fate is sort of a bigger deal, but let's examine what something as simple as a number change can do. CHANGES IN BRANDING LeBron has a logo. Most logos don't change very often, and when they do it's usually not as a result of one guy deciding he wants to wear something different to work. In the case of King James, the logo that appears on all of his clothing, and even Ohio State's basketball uniforms prominently displays the number 23 weaved inside his initials. So at the very least, someone at Nike is going to need to redesign that logo, all of the current apparel with the old logo displayed are going to end up in a similar place as the Patriots 19-0 Super Bowl t-shirts (single tear followed by multiple tears), and Nike is going to re-launch a new line of apparel. NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR MERCHANDISING #23 and #6 aside, LeBron is #2. Huh? In terms of jersey sales, Cleveland's #23 is still only the second most popular jersey behind Kobe's #24 (for the second year in a row). LeBron appears to be adopting a similar strategy as Kobe when he switched from #8, a move that propelled him to the top of the jersey sales list. A true NBA 'fan'? wouldn't be caught dead in an outdated jersey, and I believe there's a 10 year grace period before something can be considered 'throwback'?. New jerseys equal new purchases. CREATION OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES Like most moves in the sports world, this one will lead to a list of conspiracy theories that speculate on ulterior motives, like: The 'going to Chicago'? thing. Not very likely. The 'stay in Cleveland'? thing. Somewhat more-likely. LeBron really said that he wanted to go to New Jersey next year, and Cleveland is just pretending they misheard him until this blows over. Not likely, but hopeful for Nets fans. The real reason is exactly what LeBron says. Least likely of them all.

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